Whether you’re a business manager, local resident, or tourist, here are some safety tips to help prepare for the Total Solar Eclipse.
In the days leading up to the Eclipse, Southern Illinois will be flooded with local residents as well as tourists from all over the world. However, you can plan ahead and mitigate these issues of congestion. Follow these tips to maximize your success and enjoyment of this celestial event:
• Arrive to your destination at least two to three days in advance of August 21st. All roadways near the path of totality will be slow moving the morning of and entire day of the eclipse.
• Traffic will be backed up at unusual times and there may be safety officers in place to direct/stop traffic during the 2+ minutes of totality.
• If you decide to travel on Monday, allow more time than necessary to get to your destination.
• All local schools will be closed on Monday so parents need to plan accordingly.
• Try to avoid areas of peak congestion.
• If you have not yet secured lodging, plan to camp-out or take an RV and check around for temporary campsites.
• If you plan to be traveling on roadways during the two minutes of totality, please use extreme caution as distracted drivers may pull-off at unsafe locations or slow-down unexpectedly.
• Bring water, food, toiletries, sun-screen, and hats with you and any family members wherever you go.
• Make sure your eclipse viewing glasses are ISO-certified and have the correct code printed on them. If you have purchased ones that do not have this identification, discard them immediately. (See details below)
• Never look directly at the sun through a telescope, binoculars, camera lens or cell phone camera. These devices will not protect the eyes.
• Please take extra precaution with infants and small children. Remember that they are the most susceptible to having permanent eye damage if their eyes are not protected. Stroller hoods/screens are not efficient for this purpose.
Make sure to do the following prior to August 15th:
• Be as self-sufficient as possible. Keep your gas tank full, as gas stations may run-out and become overcrowded.
• Local residents need to fill all prescriptions and stock-up on groceries and essentials. This will also allow time for stores to restock.
• Plan to take-out ample cash from ATMs.
• Try and schedule doctor appointments during a less crowed time.
• Do your best to conserve water and energy in and outside of your home.
• In the instance that cell phone systems are overwhelmed, rent a satellite phone to stay in touch with family or work. Providers suggest you use text messages to communicate rather than place calls or use face-time applications.
• Keep in mind that internet and online streaming will be slow.
• Obtain eclipse glasses as soon as possible before shortages occur and make sure the lenses are not damaged in any way.
• Pay attention to weather reports on your local TV station. Broadcast meteorologists will be giving up-to-date eclipse weather forecasts.
Locals-Private Lodging Opportunities
If you have extra space and are considering renting to visitors, there are legal protocols and procedures you will need to follow. If the property is located within the city of Marion, contact City Hall at (618) 997-6281. If the property is not located in Marion, but does fall within Williamson County lines, contact the County Commissioners (618) 997-1301. Give yourself more time than necessary to obtain the proper permits if you decide to rent out your space.
If you are a local business manager or owner, here are some suggestions to help make things run smoothly on the days leading up to and on August 21st:
• Prepare as if it were an extended holiday weekend and have more than enough readily available vendor items, camping items, etc.
• If possible, keep an extra refrigerated truck on-site.
• Obtain a backup power source in case of power outages and install proper emergency lighting in case of power failure.
• The safety of all on-site employees and visitors should be your priority. Take time to plan evacuation routes and exits from your facility and clearly mark them.
• Designate staff 'safety wardens' to guide and assist any emergency efforts, including regular drills.
• Have an adequate number of employees scheduled to work during peak hours and remind them to allow more than enough time to travel to work.
• Identify appropriate shelter spaces in your facility.
• Have regular staff meetings to address any questions that may arise.
• In the event of a life-threatening emergency, contact your local police.